Far-right criminality in Germany at a record high

The number of incidents recorded as being motivated by right-wing extremism increased to its highest point since the German police began to keep records of politically-motivated crimes in 2001.

Some 23,064 crimes were counted as right-wing extremist, an increase of 5.7% over the previous year.

The majority of violent crimes classified as politically-motivated were perpetrated by right-wing extremists, with 13 victims of attempted violent crimes on top of the 11 who were killed in Hanau.

“The increase in violent crimes by 18.8%, to a total of 3,365 incidents, is particularly bad,” the interior minister said.

“This shows what I’ve been saying since the beginning of my time in office, that right-wing extremism is the biggest threat for security in our country, since the majority of racist crimes are committed by people from within this spectrum,” he added.

Antisemitic hate speech was also on the rise with an increase of 15.7% in incidents, many of which were carried out online, Seehofer said.

“Antisemitic hate is a core component of right-wing extremist ideology. This development in Germany is not just concerning but, in the context of our history, deeply shameful,” the minister said.

Seehofer also brought up the protests against COVID-19 restrictions by the the so-called “Querdenker” movement, which loosely translates as “lateral thinkers.”

Out of the criminal incidents that were classified as “crimes of expression” — including hate speech and propaganda — the vast majority, 65%, were considered to come from right-wing extremist perpetrators.

Around 3,500 criminal incidents were associated with Querdenker protests, including 500 violent crimes. And out of the 1,260 reported criminal incidents against journalists, 112 were connected to protests against COVID-19 restrictions.

Seehofer also noted an increase of 11% for crimes coming out of the extreme left-wing scene, noting in particular a 45% increase in uses of violence.

He then pointed to the high level of “confrontational crimes” which he said were often perpetrated by left-wing extremists, such as taking part in counter-demonstrations to so-called Querdenker marches.

Despite the focus on right-wing extremism among the crime data and the threat it posed, Seehofer said the ministry would keep its eye on left-wing extremism — just as with Islamist extremism.

Commenting on the latest figures, the President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dr. Josef Schuster, stated:

“The latest figures on acts of violence and other crimes by extremists as well as antisemitic offenses are absolutely alarming and a damning verdict for Germany.”

“Although Germany was hit less hard by the corona pandemic and responded with less harsh restrictions than other European countries, the pandemic has apparently led to a new form of extremism. Antisemitism can be found everywhere, on the streets as well as online.”

We are grateful for civil society’s commitment to the the fight against antisemitism, but we now need all democrats to join forces,” Dr. Schuster added.

“This democratic offensive against extremists of all stripes must be initiated before the [2021] federal elections and then followed through. That is in everyone’s interest,” he concluded.

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